The online world holds a lot of potential for marketing your farm: Many marketing options are free, but when they do cost money, they can be very effective. That said, no matter where you market, here are a few ideas that are key to successfully communicating to potential customers what your farm has to offer.
Some of these ideas are purely technical while others are broader in scope. That said, they all hold a high level of importance when it comes to getting word of your farm name out there and making sales.
1. Grow Your Email List
Email might seem old-fashioned at this point, but it is still among the most important marketing tools you have. Generally speaking, and studies back this up, customers are more likely to open an email than, say, a Facebook link. So there is a lot of potential for sustaining or growing your customer base through email. Keep in mind that you can overdo it, so I recommend that you send emails only once a month or less. Use a service such as Mailchimp to help you organize lists and design handsome messages through templates. Collect email addresses at market on a signup sheet or online—getting this started early helps tremendously when you need to sell something such as CSA shares, speciality holiday baskets or whatever your product might be.
2. Have a Great Product
Speaking of product, arguably the most important rule in almost any form of marketing is that no matter how you market, the product you sell (a CSA, meat or what have you) must back it up. Word of mouth will always be your most effective marketing tool, but it can work against you as well. If people love the product, they will tell their friends. If they don’t, they might also tell their friends. I should also say, in terms of social media it is significantly easier to have good social media when you are proud of what you do. It simply comes through in your posts.
3. Avoid Trying to Be Everywhere
Social media is, at present, one of the best advertising options farmers have ever had. It’s generally free or at least cheap—cheap in comparison to the previous avenues, at least—and almost all your clients are undoubtedly already there. However, you do not need to be on every single platform to succeed at social media. You need to find the social media that you relate to the most and run with that. Pick one or two. I know farms that have only an Instagram account. I know farms that have Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts. I know farmers who use only email and no social media at all. There are even farmers who thrive on Twitter. Whatever platform you enjoy, gravitate toward that. Do not force your social media—it will come through in your posts.
4. Do Not Be Afraid to Spend Money
Facebook advertising and other platforms might charge you a little to get your posts to more people. Do not hesitate. These inexpensive tools are extremely powerful and can get you to hundreds or thousands of people whom you might not normally find. Sometimes they might cost $3 a day and get your ad to a few thousand people over a week’s time. That is hard to do anywhere else, or with any other form of advertising. Moreover, with Facebook advertising at least, you can target the exact demographic you have in mind with key words such as “whole thirty” or “yoga” or “vegetarian” and even add multiple locations where your ad will appear. Make your ad great, and then try a short run of advertising. You might be surprised at how effective it can be.